Game, Set, Match!
"We are delighted the EU confirmed
that we won in a landslide!"
May 26, 2005
Seriously, there is ye Itopiya Amlak!
In the midst of gloom and doom, who brings a ray of sunshine in our lives but the EU. The situation is drunk with irony.
After all my mwart about how the CUD should settle into being an effective opposition, here comes a flustered EU waving a “Do not pass go, do not collect $200.00” card that leaves us all breathless.
Good thing there was a CYA paragraph in my blog from Tuesday with this clause:
Unless the opposition is expecting either the EU or another big international observer to declare that it won (let’s not count on Jimmaha Cart-ah who might finally have taken his image as a man of peace a little too seriously), there needs to be a serious look into what the next steps are for Qnijit.
So, I’m not as dumb as I think I am.
If I may, from the EU Mission Statement:
"The National Electoral Board does not seem to be in control of the counting operation by the constituency electoral committees and limits itself to passively receive the reports from a limited number of constituencies."
To which the boundlessly witty Ethiopian Electoral Board spokesman, an Ato Getahun Amogne, replied with this devastatingly tepid ‘right back atcha’: "We have electoral officers in each constituency and they are responsible for that. We are in control."
Well, that’s good to know. A western reporter should ask Ato Getahun what his last name means.
What does the EU “confidential” report “obtained” by the AP mean to the Qinijit? (By the way, it ain’t confidential when you leak it. Minnew itayE!)
It puts EPRDF in more of a pickle, and Tony Blair in the awkward position of having to avoid Meles’ calls for the next few days. There is something fantastically fara about this doling out of election returns in piecemeal. It is as if the EPRDF is trying to squeeze itself back into toothpaste tube, and the harder it tries the messier it is getting.
The opposition should now get a statement from Tony Blair. Have him say something to the effect that he will stand by what the EU decides. Nail? Coffin?
But, there’s more… oh, much more!:
The EU report also said U.S. President Jimmy Carter, who led a team of 50 election observers, undermined the electoral process and EU criticism with "his premature blessing of the elections and early positive assessment of the results."
Unless there is a "drastic reverse toward good democratic practice" the observer team and EU "will have to publicly denounce the situation.
"Otherwise, the EU jointly with ex-president Carter will be held largely responsible for the lack of transparency, and assumed rigging, of the elections."
NO.. THEY... WHY YES THEY DID...
I have not read a more excruciatingly disinteresting and disinterested report than Jimm’ah’s “been there, done, that” Ethiopia Trip Report since my son’s “What I did last summer” essays that I have to coo over because I need him to think I am a good mother.
There are some notable “regrets” Mistah Jimm’ah shares with us:
The EPRDF's likening the opposition to Rwanda's interhamwe is as, or more, regrettable as are some opposition slurs against the Tigrayans in the ruling party.
(BTW, what did the opposition say about the ruling party? I can’t find it on the web. I sure hope they didn’t advocate that people rise up and summarily machete members of the ruling party and then burn their bodies in front of their children because, yeah, that would be as or more regrettable.)
But yet another Jimm'ah regret:
We regret the NEB's initial directive to restrict the types of domestic organizations that could receive credentials for election observation.
I thought regret was something you sent when you can’t make the annual Memorial Day barbeque your obnoxious brother-in-law throws. Trying to thwart a democratic election? I regret to say that's what civilization would consider more than regrettable.
What else did you see, Mistah Jimm’ah?
Some irregularities in procedures did occur, the most notable being that ID cards were not always checked. While officials consistently asked for voter cards, they failed to be equally diligent on the presentation of ID documents.
Not asking for ID cards was the most “notable” regrettable irregularity Jimm’ah witnessed? Well, it would be if the Ethiopian elections were a nightclub and its bouncers were trying to prevent underage drinking!
But I interrupted Mistah Jimm’ah…
In Soro, Carter Center observers witnessed a large number of underage voters. There also were unconfirmed reports of vote buying. In addition, the bags that the ballots were delivered in were opened one day before voting commenced. Dessie City, Kebele 10, was also an area of concern, where crowds grew restless at an overcrowded polling station and tried to push into the station.
Wait a minute… we went from regret to concern? Not asking for ID cards was regrettable, but lugging in an opened bag of ballots is something of a concern? If the EPRDF overturns the election results and clings to power will Mistah Jimm’ah find it… um...disquieting? Or perhaps if the EPRDF imposed military rule and imprisoned opponents… would Mr.Jimma’ah be… unsettled?
Surprisingly, the Coalition doesn't seem to be giving the NEB's neglect of the “No ID, No Service" policy that much heft in their 28-page letter chronicling election irregularities. Let’s see… unduly delaying voting and counting… Dismissing and jailing observers… Preventing counting to take place… yep.. I can see why they found that… nerve-racking…. Stealing and hiding ballot boxes… Replacing the original filled ballot boxes with fake ballot boxes… Ripping ballot boxes… uh huh… what do you know… no mention of ID cards!
I wish the Coalition would get its priorities straight.
Anything else, Mistah Jimm’ah before we hurl ourselves off of a cliff?
We have made observations across Ethiopia and trust that the NEB counting, tabulation, and verification will be completed in a careful and expeditious manner.
Yeah. And the EU report? Your thoughts on that Mr. Ex-president? Is it un-soothing?
Jimm’ah, Jimm’ah, Jimm’ah… I know you’ve worked on River Blindness and Trachoma in Ethiopia, and that’s something very unregrettable, but what is the deal with you and PM Meles??
Oh, I see you elaborate on that in your other Trip Report :
The Carter Center has had a long and deep involvement in Ethiopia, beginning in 1988 when I responded to a joint request from the International Red Cross and the UN High Commissioner on Refugees.
"Within an hour, he and I had worked out a solution to the problem..”
Allllrighty…But, Mistah Jimm’ah… I was asking about you and PM Meles… What’s the deal with you two?
“During these months, in 1989 and 1990, I also became acquainted with Meles Zenawi, the leader of Tigrayan revolutionaries.”
“He would meet me at airports in Paris, Atlanta, and London when I came into the region, spread his war maps on the floor, and describe his progress against Mengistu's forces.”
So, you’ve been such fast friends with PM Meles even way back in 1989 that he was spreading his war plans on the table of an airport Hardee’s showing you his war plans? War plans? Ahh the things BFF’s.. best friends forever... do for each other! Was there any exchanging of friendship bracelets?
And what happened when your friend came into power, Mista’h Jimm’ah?
"After Meles prevailed in 1991 and despite my concerns about Eritrean leadership, he granted Eritrea complete independence in 1993, cutting Ethiopia off from the Red Sea and making it the most populous landlocked nation in the world."
Well! That’s an achievement to be proud of… landlocking 74 million people. Way to go, bud. I was going to suggest war, pestilence and famine, but that’s been achieved already.
So, you’ve been BFF with PM Meles and have been relatively quiet about his administration for the past few years, despite several human rights violations? Well, at least, Mistah Jimm’ah, you very graciously opted not to observe the 1995 and 2000 elections. That would have been a disgrace, and in the name of all Ethiopian people, may I say, thank you.
But, let’s move on… Mistah Jimm’ah.. … Anything that peeved you in the run-up to the elections? You have the floor…
“The most highly publicized event was the expulsion of observer teams from the National Democratic Institute, International Republican Institute, and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems."
Yeah. That kind of sucked! Well, we are sure you ripped into PM Meles for that! You're no pushover. Tell us! Tell us, Mister Jimm'ah... tell us how you excoriated your best friend about the inappropriateness of kicking out well-established institutions. Jimmah won't stand for that kind of behavior! Tell us how, when it comes to democracy, J'mm'ah stands tall and proud. Mister Jimm'ah... you have our ears...
"Although I appealed personally to the Prime Minister, he refused to reverse the decision.”
Well, as long as you appealedto his sense of fairness, Mistah Jimm'ah. There's only so much you can do. You couldn't very well take any stronger a stance than appeal to the man. He shared his war plans with you, for God's sakes! It is regrettable he refused to reverse the decision to kick out three big international agencies. But just so that we are clear, PM Meles’ reason for throwing them out?
“Ethiopia expelled NDI, IRI and IFES, formerly the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, because they had not registered with proper authorities…”
Well then. In light of that... Remember, the tenet here is "No ID, No Service." If it was good enough for them in the Soro region, then it's good enough for the uppity international observing crowd. Proper IDs… proper registration… I see a trend here. Besides, really, who do the IRI and the NDI think they are!
Well, Mistah Jimm’ah… as long as you didn’t proclaim the election process free and fair before the elections started? Oh, you did? Well now, that’s regrettable.
Mr. Carter. Enough! In southern parlance, “Don’t piss on my back and tell me it’s raining!”
Here's a petition going to the Carter Center.